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John's Grocery Inc.

Not Rated.
John's Grocery Inc.John's Grocery Inc.

79 Ratings
Ratings: 79
Reviews: 63
rAvg: 4.61
pDev: 6.94%
$$ - reasonable
[ Store ]

401 E Market St
Iowa City, Iowa, 52245-2628
United States
phone: (319) 337-2183

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Specializes in imported beer and glassware; also known as “Dirty John’s” for selling Playboy magazines in the 1950s.

Monday - Thursday: 7:30am –- Midnight
Friday & Saturday: 7:30am -– 2:00am)
Sunday: 9:00am –- Midnight

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Ratings: 79 | Reviews: 63 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by woodychandler:
Photo of woodychandler


5/5  rDev +8.5%
quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$

Great Caesar’s Ghost! Just like in Wichita, I seemed incapable of reading a map. I had this on my list of places that I wanted to visit, but not as my first stop. Instead, I wanted to drink a beer first. My faulty map reading landed me right on their doorstep and once I identified myself through a copy of the current issue of Ale Street News which was sitting in The Beer Room, the owner, Doug Alberhasky, gave me a tour of the place.

It was opened in 1848 and his grandparents took it over in 1958. It is one of only twenty-eight family-owned grocery stores in Iowa City and Doug said that they maintain a constant vigilance of the chains that would love to subvert their business. There have been five additions to the original building and they even have three apartments on the second floor, plus the mechanical room.

The Beer Room was all of the way aft, on the right hand side and had not only a huge selection of singles on shelves, but also a walk-in cooler for sixes, which were not to be broken. Doug relented on this dictum for me, since I really wanted a single bottle of Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere, which I had only ever tried on-tap. All of the lights in the store have UV filters to reduce the chance of the beer getting light struck. I was also taken down into “The Cave”, which is a remnant of Iowa City’s first icehouse, which is now used as underground storage for all of the beer that does not fit upstairs. The depth and breadth of their selection was astounding.

After we came up from “The Cave”, Doug then led me out a side door on the right side of the building, across the parking lot, up a flight of steps, across the porch of what was once a private residence, and into their glassware and memorabilia outlet. My jaw dropped. For Phatz, MugHugger, and BitterBeerFace: yinz were talking last night about having appropriate glassware on hand and this place’s website would be a great place to shop. The entirety of this store was just mind blowing!

Whoops! I almost forgot to mention the nickname for this establishment: “Dirty John’s”. It is not that it is not kept-up. Au contraire, mes amis! It begins at immaculate and works upward. No, instead, it refers to a time in the early 1960’s, shortly after Doug’s grandfather, John, had taken over. Playboy was delivered in bundles and before John arrived to take them in, the bundle was purloined by some neighborhood boys, who, when caught, claimed that John had sold them the magazines. The investigating officer called to find out if this was true and the conversation went something like this: “Dirty John, are you peddling smut to kids out of that store of yours?” The name stuck. I should have bought a copy for nostalgia sake, but I did not think of it at the time.

12-03-2006 18:38:36 | More by woodychandler
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John's Grocery Inc. in Iowa City, IA
100 out of 100 based on 79 ratings.